The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 11 July 2008

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle gets the brutal truth about the economy

By: Murdoch MacDonald

THE Elite Ayrshire Business Circle held its latest breakfast meeting at 8am on Thursday 10 July 2008 at the Clydesdale Bank Financial Solutions Centre in Alloway Street, Ayr.

Eminent financial commentator Nick Parsons (pictured above) delivered a brilliant, comprehensive and brutally frank presentation about the present and future state of the UK economy in a global context, in which he told it as it is and pulled no punches.

Nick Parsons joined nabCapital (like Clydesdale Bank, part of the National Australia Bank Group) in 2007 as Head of Markets Strategy, based in London.

He has 24 years experience in Foreign Exchange and Money Markets, having previously held posts as Global Head FX Research, Head of Macro Research and Group Economist.

He is a regular contributor to CNBC, BBC, Sky, and Bloomberg News, and is frequently quoted by major newspapers and news agencies.

[Pictured at the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle’s latest breakfast meeting, left to right: South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan and deputy leader Margaret Toner; Lorna Alexander of the Ayrshire Association of Business Women; and Gloria Lambert of MacKay Corporate Insurance Brokers.]

Starting his presentation to the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle, Nick Parsons warned that he was no ray of sunshine, and kicked off by stating quite unequivocally that we are entering a new era, and that economically speaking, the good times are definitely over.

Addressing the question as to whether the UK is facing a recession, Nick pointed out that the answer depends upon how you define recession.

However, using the generally accepted definition of two consecutive quarters of negative growth, then the answer is probably no, but the question is largely academic, as it is going to feel like a recession.

Money is scarce - it is harder to get finance, and if you can get it, the cost of it has gone up. Although the official UK interest rates have fallen, the actual rates that people and businesses have to pay have risen, due to the difficulties being experienced in the money markets at the present time.

House prices are falling, and will continue to fall. Retail sales - which follow house prices - will collapse, and inflation and unemployment will increase. Inflation will probably peak towards the end of the year at around 4.2%, and then fall sharply back to, or below the 2% target during next year.

But Nick Parsons welcomes what is happening. Because recovery - when it does come - will herald a new situation in which we as a nation are no longer spending beyond our means in a debt bubble fuelled and dependent upon unrealistic house price rises.

Neil Wilson, partner at Clydesdale Bank Treasury Solutions in Glasgow added: “As Nick Parsons conveyed, we are indeed heading towards difficult times.

“The important aspect here is that we at the Clydesdale Bank are honest with our clients and contacts about the depth of the problems and deliver these messages, good or bad, to allow them to make informed decisions about their own businesses and their position in the marketplace.”

[Pictured left to right: Clydesdale Bank Financial Solutions Centre managing partner Willie Mackie; Elite Ayrshire Business Circle guest speaker Nick Parsons; and Clydesdale Bank Treasury Solutions partner Neil Wilson.]

Clydesdale Bank Financial Solutions Centre managing partner Willie Mackie commented: “I was delighted to welcome Nick Parsons on his first visit to Ayrshire. Nick is a regular contributor to Sky TV, CNBC, BBC and Bloomberg and to hear his thoughts and views so clearly articulated in person was an illuminating experience.

“The response from the audience was so positive that we will be inviting Nick back to Ayrshire to provide a further update towards the end of the year.”

South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan added: “It was a privilege to listen to Nick Parsons’ presentation on the present and future state of the national and world economies.

“He certainly laid it on the line straight and to the point, and all in attendance were left in no doubt that the next 18 months are going to be hard going.

“He managed to put across the realities of the credit crunch with humour, honesty and in a straightforward manner which to those of us not in the financial world made perfect sense. There are many who could learn from him!”

Photography by:

Graeme Pollock
Tel: 07792 327693


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Sea King helicopter re-enacts mountain
rescue at Ayr Racecourse Family Day

By: Iain Ferguson

A DRAMATIC re-enactment of a mountain rescue complete with a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter swooping down to winch an injured man to safety was just one of the highlights of Ayr Racecourse’s Family Day last Sunday.

Adults and children looked on as the giant chopper hovered just yards from the main stands to perform the daring ‘rescue’ which underlined the importance of the Mountain Rescue Team from RAF Leuchars and the role Sea Kings based at Gannet play in this joint forced operation.

The RAF organised a number of displays including an Air Traffic Control Operation tent, a Field Hospital, deployed living accommodation with samples of the rations military personnel live on in the field and there was a Squirrel helicopter and an armoured vehicle on show.

Children’s entertainer Magic Malky performed his Magic Show and also hosed a Talent Show in the Ayrshire Suite and a Children Marquee housed a variety of attractions including a bucking bronco, inflatable sumo wrestling and beat the goalie.

There was also fun fair attractions, pony rides and a bouncy castle as well as a visit from Ayrshire’s biggest limo – the Mega Limo.

The official attendance was 4,245 - a near 10% increase on last year’s total and Ayr Racecourse marketing manager Lindsey Smith commented: “It was a really successful day and the weather held out apart from one shower later in the afternoon.

“I’d like to thank the RAF for their contribution and the dramatic rescue was a real show stopper.”

Ayr next race meeting is the Renault Vans Raceday on Monday 14 July with the first race at 2.10pm. To book advance tickets go online at or call 0870-8505666.

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Thursday, 10 July 2008

North Ayrshire attracts £60 million golf resort investment boost

By: Kirsty Innes

A PRESTIGIOUS new world-class golf resort is set to change the face of the North Ayrshire coast as part of an exciting multi-million pound regeneration project.

“The Ayrshire” will be an internationally renowned 18-hole links course complete with adjoining hotel and selection of pioneering holiday homes designed to generate hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds to the local economy on the waterfront of Irvine Bay (see site photograph above).

The new £60million development is a joint venture between property investment and development company Credential Holdings Limited and KPT Limited, the team behind the first ever authentic links course to be built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The new course has been designed by acclaimed golf architect David McLay Kidd, whose previous creations include The Castle course in St Andrews, Machrihanish Dunes at Kintyre and the celebrated Bandon Dunes in Oregon, USA.

The development of The Ayrshire is a major coup for Irvine Bay Regeneration Company, whose principle role is to promote the physical transformation of the area by encouraging private sector investment to increase employment and boost economic recovery for the region.

“We are delighted that Irvine Bay Regeneration Company, having brought this exciting project to the market in March 2007, has reached the position where Credential Holdings and KPT have been identified as the preferred developers and their work on the project is imminent,” said regeneration director Brian MacDonald, .

“The creation of an outstanding Scottish links course with adjacent and high quality supporting leisure developments – including a new hotel – is an important piece of the jigsaw in developing an exciting and sustainable new future for Irvine Bay, bringing jobs, wealth and opportunity to the area.

“We have the opportunity to create a golfing asset which will bring visiting golfers to the area and, importantly, provide the facilities to keep them in this area longer,” he added.

“Despite there being a number of exceptional golf courses in this area, they are predominantly private members clubs providing limited opportunity for visiting golfers at weekends.

“The Ayrshire ― with a new links golf course, a high class hotel and fractional ownership facilities ― will fill that gap and encourage more golfers for longer stays. This is a great asset for the area.”

Construction of the par 70 golf course and 220,000 square foot hotel facility, with clubhouse, professional’s shop, spa, restaurant and conference facilities is estimated to take around 20 months and involve at least 250 construction jobs.

Construction of the course will be overseen by Euan Grant, the former head green keeper of the old course at St Andrews.

“The Ayrshire is in a fantastic location, just outside Glasgow and the whole project comes complete with housing and hotels.” said Mr Grant.

“It’s close to two or three world-class golf courses and several other of Scotland’s top class courses.

“There are a lot of people who travel to Scotland to play, so being close to Troon and Prestwick makes Irvine Bay a good tour base to explore the quality courses that Scotland has to offer.

“Looking after the environment is vital when you’re building an authentic links course. We are the only people in the country who have been awarded a golf course on a SSSI site, so you could say we are the most sensitive golf course developers in the country.”

On the Machrihanish Dunes project KPT Limited, employing the same team behind The Ayrshire, worked closely with ecologists and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to ensure their handmade course caused as little environmental disturbance as possible.

On completion the development will require the staffing of around 90 full-time and 45 part-time jobs ranging from green-keeping staff to bar tenders, caddies and hotel managers.

Plans are also being considered for a terminal for Loch Lomond Seaplanes close to the resort, which will further improve accessibility to the area. Should this go ahead, The Ayrshire would be within minutes of Glasgow, Oban, and Loch Lomond.

The Ayrshire will differ from many other links courses in that it will be open to the public as a pay and play course, rather than for members only.

“It was important for us to make it a pay to play course so that it is accessible and not just another private members course,” said Derek Porter, group managing director of Credential Holdings Limited.

“We want as many local people to get involved as possible, so those with a neighbouring postcode will pay less to play on the course. We also intend to build a caddie academy to train local teenagers.”

It’s been estimated by the developers that around 25,000 rounds of golf a year will be played at The Ayrshire. If each golfer spends £200 locally, then the annual benefit to the economy will be around £5 million.

* Credential Holdings has more than 30 years experience in property investment and development, especially in projects requiring a little imagination and flair.

The company, which was founded by Glasgow property entrepreneur Barrie Clapham, own more than £250 million worth of UK property, with 85 per cent of their assets in Scotland.

* Kintyre Property Trust (KPT) is currently putting the finishing touches to the creation of Machrihanish Dunes, the first golf course in the UK to be built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

* Irvine Bay Urban Regeneration Company is one of Scotland’s largest regeneration companies, helping to revitalise an area of outstanding natural beauty spanning 14 miles of sandy coastline.

Their aim is to develop the built environment of the four seaside towns of Ardrossan, Saltcoats, Stevenston and Irvine and the abbey town of Kilwinning to engineer new investment and sustainable employment for the area.


Irvine Bay Urban Regeneration Company

Credential Holdings

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Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Spirit AeroSystems’ Ayrshire facility wins two new Airbus contracts

By: Murdoch MacDonald

AYRSHIRE’S aerospace industry has received a significant boost with the announcement that the Prestwick facility of Spirit AeroSystems has won two major new contracts with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

Spirit Europe, the UK-based European headquarters of Spirit AeroSystems Inc has signed a contract with Airbus to design and produce a major wing structure for the A350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body) programme.

Spirit will design and assemble the wing leading edge structure primarily at its facility in Prestwick, Scotland. The composite front spar will be built at Spirit’s recently announced facility in Kinston, North Carolina, USA, with composite sub-assemblies being manufactured at the Spirit Malaysia facility at Subang, near Kuala Lumpur.

The structure, incorporating advanced technology, will be made of about 50 per cent carbon-fibre content and will measure 32 metres long.

“We already have a long history of producing major wing structures in the UK for current Airbus models such as the A320 and A380,” commented Neil McManus, vice-president and managing director of Spirit Europe. “This contract win means that we will be playing just as vital a role in their newest model, the A350 XWB.”

The contract further increases Spirit’s involvement on the A350 XWB, having recently announced that it will design and build the large composite centre fuselage section in a newly constructed facility in North Carolina.

“We were already excited to partner with Airbus on the A350 XWB Section 15 composite centre fuselage frame section,” said Jeff Turner, president and chief executive of Spirit AeroSystems.

“To be involved in such a significant wing package as well is a testament to the design and manufacturing capability that exists within the entire Spirit enterprise.”

In addition, Spirit has reached an agreement worth $1.7 billion with Airbus to extend their existing contract to supply leading and trailing edges and other wing structures on the Airbus A319, A320 and A321 range assembled in the UK from 2011 until 2015.

“This contract extension is fantastic news for aerospace manufacturing in the UK,” added McManus. “We now have visibility on a product line that has been a core part of our business for a number of years, and is set to be an integral part of our future.”

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle managing director Murdoch MacDonald commented: “It is a happy coincidence that in this the year that we celebrate the UK’s centenary of powered flight, Spirit Aerosystems at Prestwick announces substantial new contracts which underline the Prestwick plant’s position as one of the jewels in Ayrshire’s business crown.

“The former Scottish Aviation Ltd and British Aerospace plant was founded in 1935, and is thus one of the longest established manufacturing companies in the West of Scotland.

“Prestwick remains a significant centre for aeronautical activity, which this latest success emphasises.

“Aviation was the original global business, and Prestwick has many of the essential ingredients required to be a major player.

“The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle congratulates the directors and management of Spirit AeroSystems on their latest stupendous success, and are delighted for the whole workforce, because these two contracts will secure employment at Prestwick for many years to come.”

Councillor Hugh Hunter, the Leader of South Ayrshire Council said: “This is fantastic news, to win one new contract would have been an outstanding achievement, but to win two major new contracts is incredible.

“The highly skilled workforce of Spirit Aero Systems at Prestwick will be able to showcase their skills and professionalism when they design and produce components for the A350 XWB Airbus. Securing this order has raised the profile of the company on a global scale and let people around the world know that South Ayrshire has a highly skilled and motivated workforce ready, willing and able to design and deliver the highest quality aviation components.

“I would like to congratulate the management and staff of Spirit Aero Systems on winning the new contracts and wish them success in the future. I believe that their success, which is due to the hard work and dedication of the employees, will encourage new companies to locate in South Ayrshire. Likewise if existing companies in this area are considering expanding I can think of no better place than South Ayrshire to do so.”

About Airbus

Airbus SAS is an aircraft manufacturing subsidiary of EADS, a European aerospace consortium. Based in Toulouse, France, and with significant activity across Europe, the company produces around half of the world’s jet airliners.

Airbus employs around 57,000 people at sixteen sites in four European Union countries: Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain. Final assembly production is at Toulouse (France) and Hamburg (Germany). Airbus has subsidiaries in the United States, Japan and China.

About Spirit AeroSystems (Europe) Limited

Based in Prestwick, Scotland and Samlesbury, England, Spirit Europe is the largest supplier of aerostructures to Airbus. It is the European division of Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. the world’s largest independent supplier of large component parts and assemblies for commercial aircraft. In addition to its UK sites, Spirit has operations in Wichita, Kansas, Tulsa and McAlester, Oklahoma, and is developing new facilities in North Carolina and Malaysia. Last year Spirit announced that it was opening an MRO maintenance hub for Europe and the Middle East at its Prestwick site.

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Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Ayrshire’s Glasgow Prestwick Airport enjoys its busiest day ever

By: Neil Richardson

GLASGOW PRESTWICK AIRPORT has experienced its busiest day ever, handling more than 10,000 passengers for the first time.

[Pictured: Glasgow Prestwick Airport chief executive Mark Rodwell.]

The milestone was reached on Friday 27 June – the last official day of school in Scotland and traditionally a busy day for airports with thousands jetting off to the sun.

This is reflected in the balance of inbound and outbound passengers, with 5,334 flying out and 4,883 flying in.

There were 68 flights on the day, 52 scheduled and 16 charter, with an average load factor of just under 82%.

The most popular flights were those serving London (Ryanair) and Majorca (Seguro), each carrying nearly 1,500 passengers.

Dublin was also a popular choice with just under 1,000 which helped push the Irish total for the day over 2,000.

Glasgow Prestwick Airport chief executive Mark Rodwell said: “The fact that we have just experienced our busiest ever day is a welcome boost as we enter July and August, our two busiest months of the year.

“It also demonstrates the strength of our scheduled and charter programmes, despite the problems currently facing the aviation industry.”

He added: “Ryanair are offering sunseekers the chance to extend their summer this year, with new flights from Prestwick to Malaga, Tenerife and Faro starting at the end of October.

“With the strong Euro, any travellers looking for more from their pound should consider some of Prestwick’s eastern European destinations, for example the four Polish destinations served by Wizz Air.”

Airport raises £1,000 for CLIC Sargent

AND Glasgow Prestwick Airport employees have raised £1,000 for the nearby Malcolm Sargent House through donations from their wages.

Workers voted to make Malcolm Sargent House, and it’s parent charity CLIC Sargent, one of the organisations to benefit from the airport’s employee charity fund, and each employee is free to choose the amount they donate every month.

[Pictured: Malcolm Sargent fundraising manager May Gilchrist (second left) receiving the cheque from the Airport’s Carole-Anne Elliot, Gillian McPherson, Alison Blackman and Jo Dunlop.]

The money was handed over, in the form of a cheque, to the charity’s community fundraising manager May Gilchrist at the CLIC Sargent Ladies Night which took place on Saturday 28 June in the Princess Royal Suite at Ayr Racecourse.

A group of employees who purchased their own tickets for the event presented the cheque in front of 450 guests. They were Gillian McPherson, Carol-Anne Elliot, Alison Blackman and Jo Dunlop.

The airport also donated flights to be used as raffle prizes at the event.

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